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Plans for 89 seafront flats approved

Images – Artist’s impressions of the development (credit David Cox Architects)

A bid to demolish hotels on Blackpool seafront and replace them with 89 luxury flats has got the go-ahead more than two years after being first unveiled.

The scheme to redevelop two sites on New South Promenade had stalled after an agreement could not be reached between the council and the developer over planning obligations including the provision of affordable housing.

But the council’s planning committee has now approved applications for apartment blocks of four, five and six storeys in height at either end of a crescent leading onto New South Promenade.

The north site will see the redevelopment of the Conwy Hotel, Hotel Skye and Sandpiper Apartments, while the south site will see the Headlands Hotel demolished.

There will be 40 apartments and 45 parking spaces on the south site accessed from Harrowside West, and 49 apartments and 49 parking spaces on the north site accessed from South Promenade.

The north site is close to the Hampton by Hilton Hotel which was recently extended and now has just over 200 bedrooms, so the loss of hotel rooms was considered acceptable by planners.

Agent Deborah Smith, co-founder of planning consultants Smith and Love, told the planning meeting it was great “to see there is a buzz around the town” with new projects acting as a catalyst for further investment.

She said: “The existing hotels on the site are costly to maintain and cannot compete with the offer of more modern and well-known hotel chains.”

She said while the design of the apartment blocks had been supported by council planning officers “the sticking point has been the viability.”

Ms Smith said: “Viability is a key concern for any developer wanting to develop in Blackpool because property values in Blackpool are generally low. ”

This meant payments to meet planning obligations including affordable housing of around £2.7m were not affordable, but the developer had offered contributions of £196,000 and £136,000.

Ms Smith added: “My clients aren’t developers, they are hotel operators so they will sell the site onto a developer. The developments would provide high quality, purpose-built apartments for the town.”

Susan Parker, the council’s head of development management, said: “On balance, officers feel development in this area, which may attract further investment, outweighs the failure to meet the planning obligations.”

Members of the committee said they were disappointed the hoped-for levels of affordable housing payments could not be achieved but backed the application.

Coun Pam Brookes said: “I don’t want to set a precedent in relation to affordable housing, but on balance, I can see investment is needed.”

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